2.27.2012

sneak peek. kitchen reveal 0.5

OK... I still have a few projects before the true REVEAL (Part 1:  before new sink and new countertops... 'cause there's no actual plan for when those things will happen).  However, I'm making a few readers cranky by not giving an update.

Ok crankypants, see if this makes you crack a smile.  Here's a BEFORE photo:
he's mine, all mine ;)  (he was so excited to have a decluttered kitchen that he just HAD to  pose.  He puts the WILD into my IDLE!)
It worked, you're smiling!

So, here she is!
Bright, semi gloss white cabinet and pine ceiling.  I fought tooth-and-nail against having a wood ceiling, but I WAS WRONG!  It's actually my favorite change (at any point in the day, my "favorite" changes)!  It's bright and looks like it's always been.  It's just glossy enough to pull in extra light from the window and bounce it all around!  Also, I bought some GORGEOUS yellow and white paper to line the back of the open cabinet, but I'm LOVING the all white.  So it'll stay that way for awhile.

WAIT... YOU'RE STILL NOT HAPPY WITH MY REVEAL?  Argh...tough crowd!



I'll provide more details with the true reveal.  For now, what do you think about the window?  The wood trim matches every other window in the house, but I keep thinking that the trim needs to be white.  Slippery slope 'cause I REFUSE (mark my words) to repaint all the trim in the house :)

My two favorite changes (today) weren't captured in the above photo (which was taken last week by me mama who promptly sent them off to my impatient sister).  What am I referring to?  TWO WORDS:  STRIPES & ANTLERS.  I know, your mind is imploding wondering what I've added stripes to and if I've really sunk so low as to decorate with antlers!?*#$!?  Oh yes my friends, oh yes!

Yet to do:

  1. Make pine trim to edge entire ceiling.
  2. Put trim molding up.
  3. Paint refrigerator (hello CHALKBOARD!)
  4. Add pendant lights above peninsula.
  5. Make pendant lamp shades out of garbage (for reals... I have a vision).
  6. Add towel rack.
  7. Paint short wall that hides the pantry.
  8. Keep up the stamina and paint the hallway which runs alongside the kitchen.  It has been spotted with  spackle for the past two years when I repainted the rest of the house and quit before I finished.
  9. Add a clock.  Now that the microwave has been moved (it used to be on the counter.  We sprung for an electrician and had it moved to the pantry!), we can't see a clock from many areas in our living space.  This is problematic for someone who is semi-obsessive about time... especially since this person's watch battery quit a year ago and she keeps forgetting to deal with it... especially since this person constantly looses her cell phone ('cause who even wears watches these days?)...
  10. LONG RANGE:  Add white farmhouse single basin sink.
  11. LONG RANGE:  New countertops (I'm not digging the grey with the current faux-butcher block.  Fortunately, my current countertops have some major problem areas and must be replaced anyway!)
So, there she is, lighter & brighter.  Fresh & functional.  Now, off to look for more yellow accents :)

2.22.2012

Taste of SUMMER

It's mid-February and though it's been a mild winter, there is a dusting of snow on the ground, most of our time is spent INDOORS and fresh produce has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get to my plate.

It's mid-February and I have CABIN FEVER.  I don't want to eat soup or snuggle under a pile of blankets.  I want to have a picnic, go for a leisurely walk in the woods wearing only flip flops (oh, shorts and a tank top too... of course) and PICK BERRIES (here and here).

Now, I am NOT the homemaker GODDESS that I aim to be.  My pantry is not stocked full of things I've "put up".  In fact, I did not can one darn thing last summer.  Here's hoping I do better this summer!  Hubs is nearing completion of his greenhouse and has some grandiose plans for his garden/farm, so seriously, I'd better make use of all the delicious, organic, free-ish food he provides.

I do much  slightly better with plain ole freezing.  Last night I volunteered to provide a dessert for a dinner with friends tonight, but will not have a chance to go to the grocery store before dinner.  So, I opened my freezer and dug around until I found the last bag of rhubarb from my father's patch.

Yes, it's mid-February and tonight, I will TASTE SUMMER!  I even threw in a few strawberries that were wilting in our fridge after my hubs bought an unappreciated treat for our girls.
Like most delicious foods, this dish is not photogenic!

RHUBARB + STRAWBERRIES = SUMMER.  Now that is math that I truly understand!

Here is my favorite rhubarb recipe:  Rhubarb Squares
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter

Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (I used 2 cups rhubarb, 1 cup strawberries.  Mix and match to your hearts content!)

Combine flour & powdered sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into the bottom of a greased 11-inch x 7-inch x 2-inch baking pan (my pan is MIA, so I used a pie plate... you can't mess up this recipe). Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. For filling, combine first four ingredients. Stir in rhubarb; pour over warm crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm if desired. Store in refrigerator.


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Now, I don't mean to be going for the longest post ever award, however I want to pay-it-forward today since a sweet blogger is sending me a free book simply because I simply have no extra funds to buy nice things for myself.  


A few years ago, farmer (sometimes referred to as "hubs" or "Jake" or not-appropriate-to-admit-publicly) and I received TWO copies of this book for Christmas.  When we he DOES can, this book has been invaluable.  Instead of continuing to keep this book in my "potential gifts" box, I want to give it to one of my readers.  Simply because I love blogging and LOVE that someone reads what I write (ie endless tales about my girls...what did I write about before them?). 


I only have one extra book and am only willing to spring for shipping to the US and Canada.  I will choose da winner on March 1st via random.org...yada yada yada.


If you live abroad, feel free to leave a comment with your email (so I can get your real address) and I will mail EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU a personal card... much more affordable shipping and at least you get some real mail :) 


So, to win, please leave a comment telling me how you access my blog.  Do you read via Google Friend Connect, Facebook, frequent Google searches (my stats tell me this happens a lot), through a link on someone else's blog, through a bookmark, through facebook, via your email...  Also, make sure I have a way of getting in touch of you if you win!  


Summer lovin',
~julie


WINNER:  #3  Congratulations to MO Kasch!  You are a winner :)

2.17.2012

gorge then fast

Happy Friday friends!  In December, I shared a 2-minute informative Advent video.  While I don't want to preach to you, I do want to educate you.  Whether or not you're a Christian, your life is likely affected by the seasons of the church (I'm in America and referring to our majority religion, Christian churches) in some way.

I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the people celebrating FAT TUESDAY next week are not doing it in preparation for starting a fast.  Plus, rumor has it that the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans is more of a secular event, gasp ;)

If you live in my area of NWPA, join me on Tuesday at Good Hope Lutheran Church for a free FAT TUESDAY dinner.  There's something about the pancakes, eggs & sausage that they serve all day that is way more delicious than any breakfast foods I make!  Yum!  Leave a message if you want more info.  They're not gonna preach to you, just feed you :)

Without further ado, here's your 2-minute crash course on Lent.




I've never fasted for Lent, I'm thinking about it... I'll let you know what I decide!  I'm also gonna write an informative Catholic versus Lutheran post... simply because I was asked this recently and I'm the world's worst conversationalist!  I said something like:  "uh, Lutherans ummm don't pray to Mary or confess to their Pastor."  Major hand slap to head!  I like to think, reflect, write, think some more and THEN discuss... certainly counter productive in many ways :)

2.15.2012

i heart music

If you know me, and definitely if you know my family, you are well aware of my passion for music.  However, it is a RARE DAY that music is actually playing in my house.  I prefer silence for my daily routine.  More often than not, the kids in my house are serenaded with my singing and at least once a day, they're encouraged to grab a musical instrument and JAM.

Though I love music, I don't invest any energy in finding new music.  I'm a walking paradox!  Pandora has made this a whole lot easier (Jack Johnson or Allison Krauss radio are all a girl needs), but in general, I'm only introduced to new music when a friend makes me a mixed cd (one of my favorite things in the world!  subtle hint...).  I have no patience for listening to 12 tracks of the same artist.

Last night, Jake showed me this music video (probably the first music video I've watched in over a year... see, I'm totally weird).  We both love it!  Stick with it till the end, you won't regret it.  Jake's brother showed it to him on Friday... there have been about one million hits a day since then!



Welcome to the band wagon!

2.14.2012

i heart you



It's true, part of my love is always available for YOU!  To make a new friend, to reconnect with an old friend, to laugh with (or at) you, to cry with/for you, to rejoice with you, to learn from you, to be inspired by you, to lean on you. I often feel like the Grinch when my heart physically grows 3xs larger in a single instant.

the most recent SUPER DAD photo.  Jake is helping Hazel plant the 1st seeds of the season!
These three are my world.  Sure, some of them pick their nose incessantly, decide to be fussy only after 10pm, staple gun into the trim work of the kitchen, refuse to eat dinner, pick-up their sister and attempt to carry her across the room, dump every basket onto the floor, etc.  However, they each also surprise me everyday.  My heart is full... and yet growing every day.

posed for a nose picking.  seriously girl!  she now carries a kleenex in one hand and picks with the other.  
Notice our Valentines Decor?  We made simple hearts out of crayon shavings & wax paper.  Simply iron between old dish towels, cut out desired shape, and tape onto window!


*Dearest grandparents and Aunt Marianne, Hazel made your Valentines at the beginning of the month.  However, her mama didn't mail them yet.  She has lots of excuses ready, but at least you have something to look forward to later in the week!  *sheepish*


HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY!

2.11.2012

i heart nature

The new thing in this house is for Hazel to wake up at exactly 5:20 and insist on "MAMA DOWNSTAIRS!".  I've begged and pleaded for her to simply play by herself or snuggle... but here I am.  Already spent an hour fixing snacks (the girl is bottomless) and bleary-eyed internet browsing.

I followed a link from The Farrier's Daughter, whose home decor taste is impeccable.  I mean, look at this bathroom... gasp!

Anyway, like Lindsey, TFD, I am completely enchanted with this artist.  I've spent a full 15- minutes trying to choose just one to feature.  I'm thinking that my guest room might have a huge collection of these framed on the wall... and at $15 a pop, it's a real possibility (just not till the kitchen reno is finished!).


With Valentine's Day just around the corner... in FEBRUARY... who thought that was a good idea?  I can't help but dream of stealing my husband away and SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS... just the two of us...

2.10.2012

i heart people

This week has been full of positive communications with people from all over the US.  Each time, I feel SURPRISED at the kindness of others.  When did I become so jaded?  Not sure, but boy... there are so awesome people in this world!

Here's a quick recap:

  • I had a disastrous experience at a favorite restaurant this weekend.  The staff was very kind and promptly on Monday morning, the manager called me and fell over himself apologizing and fixing the situation (and my tooth).  I don't want to give them bad press because it was a true freak accident... so this is all I'll say about the matter :)
  • Hubby is obsessed with his Mountain Khaki Original Mountain Pants.  We got him a pair about 4 years ago and they still look good (he rotates between 2-4 pairs of pants at a given time... so they get worn A LOT)!  A few months ago, we splurged and got him 2 more pairs... he does wear them for work, but they run about $60 on sale (here's where I pretend that I spend less than that on my pants...shh...don't tell... us tall girls have to pay a premium for length).  However, they SHRUNK!  Now, my hubs likes his pants to be a tad short (sigh)... however, they finally got to him... who wants to feel a breeze on their ankles in February?  Anyway, I wrote a positive, yet truthful review on the MK website, and just yesterday was contacted by customer service.  It's still in the works, but it seems that they had a misfit batch recently and we might be part of that batch... which will be replaced!
  • Speaking of MKO pants, before I knew about the above, I bought him a new pair at bigskycounty.com.  I was supposed to receive 20% off, but didn't.  Their customer service number didn't work, so I asked them about it on facebook.  Not 3 hours later, I got a personal phone call and the problem was fixed!  
  • As you may know, I'm a little obsessed with my kitchen reno right now.  Stage 1 is happening next week (new ceiling and painting cabinets)... so I will continue to be scarce in blogland.  For my open cabinets, I want to line them with a cool yellow paper.  I've scoured the web for yellow wrapping paper that would work... NOTHING!  So, I asked Dana from Made, I don't know her, but read her blog and she is the Queen of YELLOW CHEVRONS.  She didn't know where I could get them, but directed me to Lindsey, a true paper guru, who promptly replied with some really great ideas.
  • Last week I was doing a Google search regarding writing for a magazine I receive, I couldn't find the info on their website, but found a blogger who wrote about being published in the current issue.  I sent her an email and found a true internet soul mate!  She's a librarian, has copper counter tops and mason jar lights!  
  • An old friend's (ok, ex-boyfriend's ;)  dad contacted me to ask if he could send my girls a handmade wooden toy... uh YES! 
  • And finally, a new friend credits me for inspiring her to research (and fall in love with) home birth.  She will be using the same midwife even :)  She is so excited about her upcoming birth... quite a difference from how she felt after her last few preggo clinic and OBGYN visits.

Wow, someone needs to tell the news broadcasters and journalists that the world is a WONDERFUL place filled with AWESOME, KIND and GENEROUS people!


*post reflections:  I HATE to complain, at least to people outside of my family.  However, I'm getting much better with being positive and assertive.  Next I'm gonna see if Bose has a fix to why my Bose stereo randomly changes channels, volume levels and most freakishly, turns on all by itself at random times!  There's a fine line between "working the system" and working WITH companies.  Like Johnny Cash, I WALK THE LINE, but I'm learning that a little kindness and honesty goes a long way!

2.03.2012

ode to my mixer

For years, I've been aware of the KitchenAid Mixer obsession.  I don't think anyone that's had a bridal shower or wedding in the past 5 years hasn't had one on their registry (can you handle the double negatives?).  Unfortunately for me, I've been married 5.5 years, before I knew about said mixer.

Though I lusted after one, it was merely a case of the Joneses... I figured, like a flat screen or iphone, it was merely something to own for the sake of owning (as someone who doesn't own an iphone is allowed to think).

I began to reconsider my position over the past year as I've been cooking more.  Often recipes provide directions using a KitchenAid Mixer... as though EVERYONE who is ANYONE has one.  I successfully adapted using my hand mixer.  Successful that is until my cousin (Malu) hosted a Christmas cookie exchange and I attempted to make 10 dozen cookies.  The little hand mixer tried it's best... so did my biggest metal bowl, but they were just not up to the challenge. *cue flour splashing all over kitchen*

My yearnings for this mixer became more vocal, but such a frivolous purchase is very low on our priorities.  Enter HUSBAND OF THE YEAR and CRAIGSLIST!  Through the help of some Christmas elves (our buddy Jason lived near the seller, 2.5 hours away from us, and Jake's mom was willing to pick-it-up from Jason and bring it for Christmas morning... as though everyone wasn't busy enough the week before Christmas!), I got a HUGE surprise Christmas morning.

Let me say, this thing is not over rated.  I use it almost every day!

In fact, last night I used to it shred chicken!  Didn't see that one coming did you?  I might make this dish every week for the rest of my life!  Wanna come over?  I'll even let you drink the rest of the beer that's used in the sauce!
photo from howsweeteats.com (I ate hoovered mine too quickly to snap a photo!)

2.01.2012

wild thing... you make my heart sing

Here she is, Heidi Rose @ 10 months





 because I can never choose just one, here are more of the many faces of Heidi-loo-who

and finally, my personal fave:  CRAZ-O FACE!  The moment before the laugh:

inspired to be

It's the perfect hour.  Hubs let me sleep a little longer, house is clean, kids are content, coffee is sweet and warm.  Sitting at the kitchen table smiling while I read an email from my sis and look at pics of her daughter.  My littlest fan crawls and peeks at me from around a chair.  She grins when I say "Good morning Heidi" and she crawls as fast as her mini legs can take her.  Pulling herself up, reaching for my knee, I envelope her sweetness as she nuzzles my shoulder, her way of asking for her favorite treat.

I spent this warm night acting as the world's most educated teddy bear as I hopped from one daughter's bed to the next.  I rarely sleep with the oldest, but it was in order last night when she was under the impression that 1:00am was the perfect time to "awake Mama.  Want to watch Dora."  Then littlest one, alone in her corner of the house, banished until she fixes her night routine, yells and I am positive that my house has grown.  It is a LONG walk to littlests crib.  Snuggles and a very early morning feeding lull her back to sleep.

Back to my bed where the pillow awaits in the perfect position.  I reach out to touch my beloved, pausing to reflect how rarely I cuddle with him these days.  It's just a phase in life when our time and bodies are first given to our young.  Soon enough it will be just us again.  Gray and wrinkled, our house will feel too big and we'll want to remember...  we live a blessed life.

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Today I will edit and post HEIDI's 10-month pics.  You all guessed it... I reposted Hazel's yesterday!  I had pulled up that collage so that I could try to replicate the photo shoot for Heidi.  Hubby sat down, and really looked at the pics... NOT REALIZING they were his eldest daughter!  Too funny!

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Finally, I wanted to share this nice quote with you.  Read it on pinterest this morning (thanks LTB!):


“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley